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The gene's eye view of life, proposed in Richard Dawkins acclaimed bestseller The Selfish Gene, sees living bodies as mere vehicles for the replication of genetic codes. But in The Music of Life, world renowned physiologist Denis Noble argues that, to truly understand life, we must look beyond the "selfish gene" to consider life on a much wider variety of levels.
Life, Noble asserts, is a kind of music, a symphonic interplay between genes, cells, organs, body, and environment. He weaves this musical metaphor throughout this personal and deeply lyrical work, illuminating ideas that might otherwise be daunting to non-scientists. In elegant prose, Noble sets out a cutting-edge alternative to the gene's eye view, offering a radical switch of perception in which genes are seen as prisoners and the organism itself is a complex system of many interacting levels. In his more expansive view, life emerges as a process, the ebb and flow of activity in an intricate web of connections. He introduces readers to the realm of systems biology, a field that has been growing in strength in the past decade. Noble, himself one of the founders of this field, argues modern systems biology may be the view we need to adopt to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of life.
Drawing on his experiences in his research on the heartbeat, and on evolutionary biology, development, medicine, philosophy, linguistics, and Chinese culture, Noble presents us with a profound and very modern reflection on the nature of life.
1. The CD of Life: the genome
2. The organ of 30,000 pipes
3. The Score: is it written down?
4. The Conductor: downward causation
5. The Rhythm Section: the heartbeat and other rhythms
6. The Orchestra: the organs and systems of the body
7. Modes and Keys: cellular harmony
8. The Composer: evolution
9. The Opera Theatre: the brain
10. Curtain Call: The artist disappears